HP, Seagate, Others Under ITC Review

Hard drive makers are being investigated for patent violations.

The U.S. International Trade Commission has voted to institute an investigation into hard disk drives manufactured by Seagate, HP, Dell, Toshiba and Western Digital.

The investigation is based on a complaint charging that the hard drives are made using patented products, and requests that the ITC issue a permanent cease-and-desist order against the companies.

If the FTC finds that the way the disk drives in question are manufactured violate patents, it could issue cease-and-desist orders that will be final in 60 days from the date of the decision.

The ITC, which has not made any decision on the merits of the case, said it will refer the case to Carl Charneski, an ITC administrative law judge, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing.

Judge Charneski will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, under which the complaint has been filed.

The initial determination by Judge Charneski is subject to review by the Commission.

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Steven F. Reiber and Mary L. Reiber, of Lincoln, Calif., and specifically concerns dissipative ceramic bonding tips used in making the hard drives.

The ITC will set a target date for the completion of the investigation within 45 days of its start.

ITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period.

Earlier this year, the ITC banned the importation of certain Qualcomm chips, agreeing that Broadcoms patent infringement complaint had merit.


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